October 18, 2007

I’ve received a wide range of responses to my previous post, and to several private conversations about the topic of the ICOC Plan for United Cooperation.

By far most of the responses I have received have been expressing agreement with my concerns. That might be because of the type of folks who are regular readers of this blog. But regardless, it indicates that these views are shared by many people in many places.

One responder thought that I should have been more clear that I was only stating my own personal view, and that I was not speaking for anyone else. I thought I had made that clear, but perhaps I could have been more clear about it. Certainly, on a controversial topic like this one, people don’t want faulty assumptions to be made about their personal views. That is one reason I wanted to express my own views clearly and publicly.

Some of those who have ratified the Plan have nevertheless shown kindness and understanding toward me and my views. They have made a sincere effort to understand why I feel this way, and have not acted as though they thought my views are completely without merit. They have insisted that they will not let the Plan interfere with our relationship. They have acknowledged that the Plan document is imperfect and should not be a criterion for cooperation. Some ratifiers have even expressed that they believe the Plan document has outlived its usefulness.

Some of the responses from ratifiers puzzle me. They argue they had no intention of creating a faction, and that the cooperation they call for is a good thing. For them, it seems that the end justifies the means. I fully acknowledge that they did not set out to create a faction. But to me, it is an observable fact that there is a faction as a result of the Plan. As a result there is a line in the sand, with the two groups harboring uneasy feelings toward each other. There are disrespectful comments being thrown around in both directions over this issue. It does not have to be like this. I fully agree that there are worthy efforts on which we could cooperate. We can accomplish that end through better means. Let’s take the document out of the way so that anyone who wishes can cooperate on those good works.

Several of the ratifiers have indicated that they will call or otherwise communicate with me about the document, or have been asked to do so by third parties, but have not yet done so. I want to believe that they are just busy with other issues in their lives, and that they will make the effort to communicate in the near future. In my more cynical moments I fear that they are avoiding what they think may be a difficult conversation. Life is easier when you don’t have to communicate with people who hold opposing views. Of course a Christian (and especially a minister or elder) does not have the option of avoiding such conversations. But maybe they view this conversation as one they can avoid. I would like to encourage those folks to give me a call. It will not be a difficult conversation. I have neither delusions nor intentions to persuade them that their view is wrong and mine is right. I only want to discuss how we can cooperate despite the disagreement. My views are a matter of public record. If my paper persuades someone, fine. But I do not intend to be a pain about it. So please call. Let’s make every effort toward unity. I promise to be nice!

I have seen evidence that there is an undercurrent of unhealthy attitudes towards other congregations on the topic of the Plan, in many if not all of our congregations. Several speakers at the ILC made derogatory public comments about non-ratifying churches. That is the tip of the iceberg. What is being said publicly is also being said privately. Those public comments tend to spread and give legitimacy to those unhealthy attitudes, on both sides of the issue. We need to stop the unhealthy talk.

I will continue to support cooperation with other congregations. I would like to cooperate with the ratifying congregations on many levels. But I cannot give my allegiance to anyone but Christ, and I cannot endorse any standard for life and doctrine other than the Scriptures. With that in mind, I will cooperate with those congregations to whatever extent they permit.


  1. anybody call/email you yet in response to your post?

  2. Not yet. But it’s been less than 24 hours so far. Surprisingly, there are some folks who don’t check my blog every 24 hours! ;-> Still hopeful.

  3. they don’t check that often? amazing!!just thought maybe if someone had been given your article re the UP that they might pick up the phone and contact you directly to speak about it.

  4. Hi ttk, 24 hours seems to be the magic incubation period. I’ve had contact in the last hour with two players. I’m optimistic.

  5. Hi Alan, I have posted your text Command, Exemple and Necessary Inference in my blog. A brother from a region of Sao Paulo ICOC came to our church last sunday. He was searching in internet about churches and found our blog. He is talking leave ICOC because he isn´t happy about what is happening. He red your article in my blog and he like about the idea of unity. I hope that it could help his and his wife´s faith.Thanks, God bless you.Your brother,André

  6. Hi Fundamentos da Fé Cristã,Thank you for your comment. I also hope that it can help their faith. We need more faith, and more unity!

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